Ron Paul Bill Would End Federal War on Marijuana

Rep. Barney Frank is co-sponsoring the first-of-its-kind legislation, which would permit states to legalize the drug

mj full full.jpg

Are Republicans serious when they say that the federal government should cede power to the states? Where do liberal Democrats really stand on drug prohibition? Congress must now confront those questions, thanks to Reps. Ron Paul and Barney Frank. They're cosponsoring legislation "to limit the federal government's role in marijuana enforcement." States would be free to keep the drug illegal, or to allow its use per the judgment of legislators and their constituents.

Hailed as the first bill of its kind to be introduced in Congress - that's expected to happen later today - its states' rights approach is significant, and forces defenders of federal drug policy into their weakest position. It's one thing to argue that marijuana should be illegal. It's another thing to insist that the federal government enforce a nationwide ban even as duly elected state legislatures signal that the people disagree. That is the essence of the matter. Under this bill, marijuana would be legalized only in states where the people and their representatives desire it.

Is the federal government justified in stopping them?

In the era of the Tea Party, when conservative Republicans are insisting that state governments be permitted to reject Obamacare, turn down bailout money, and otherwise flex their muscles, it's a tough moment to insist, "Yes, marijuana is different: the feds should prevail." Of course, the bill is likely to fail anyway. In killing it, however, various hypocrisies will be highlighted. As a result, federal prohibition of marijuana will wind up marginally less tenable than before.

Image credit: Baz Ratner/Reuters

Presented by

Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Politics

Just In